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President Trump to focus on religious freedom at UN

President Donald Trump is set to make the protection of religious freedom a key focus at next week’s United Nations meetings in New York.

“The President will highlight American values and underscore that America is a positive alternative to authoritarianism,” a senior administration official told reporters on Sept. 20.

“Specifically, he will use this opportunity to showcase the administration’s commitment to upholding democracy and protecting religious freedom.”

World leaders will gather in New York next week for the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. President will kick off his meetings with the “global call to protect religious freedom” event on Sept. 23 at U.N. headquarters.

The event, which will be hosted by Trump “seeks to highlight and broaden international support for protecting religious freedom in the wake of the increasing persecution of people on the basis of their own belief and faith,” a senior administration official said, calling it a “core event.”

“The President is calling on all world leaders to begin to not just talk about it, but to take action to acknowledge it and to move forward,” the official said.

Nearly 83 percent of the world’s population in 2016 lived in countries with high or very high religious restrictions, according to a 2018 study by Pew Research Center.

The President will address the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 24. On the sidelines of the event, he is scheduled to hold meetings with several leaders including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Polish President Andrzej Duda, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are set to meet on Sept. 25. In August, both leaders announced they reached a deal on “core principles” of a trade agreement covering market access in agriculture and some industrial goods, as well as digital trade. Both sides are expected to sign the deal at the U.N. General Assembly.

The president is also set to meet with Western Hemisphere leaders to discuss Venezuela and ask them to increase the pressure on the illegitimate Nicolas Maduro regime, the senior administration official said.